The Boston Celtics have suspended coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-2023 season, the team announced Thursday night.
In its announcement, the team cited violations of team policy. Sources previously told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Udoka had an intimate relationship with a female member of the franchise staff.
The suspension is effective immediately, and a decision on Udoka’s future with the organization will be made at a later date, the team said.
“I want to apologize to our players, the fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down,” Udoka said in a statement to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation and I agree with the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will not comment further.”
A season-long suspension is largely unprecedented for a sitting head coach in the NBA.
The Celtics have made assistant coach Joe Mazzulla the interim head coach, sources told Wojnarowski.
Udoka’s top assistant, Will Hardy, left the team in June to become the coach of the Utah Jazz.
Udoka joined the Celtics last summer after serving as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets following his NBA playing career.
He replaced Brad Stevens as coach. Stevens moved upstairs to become Boston’s president of basketball operations after his predecessor, Danny Ainge, decided to leave the organization.
In his first season as coach, Udoka led a remarkable turnaround in Boston that saw the Celtics go from below .500 in late January to finishing the season 28-7 over their final 35 games. They then made an impressive run through the Eastern Conference playoffs, reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years.
Udoka is the fifth coach in the last 25 years to reach the NBA Finals in his first season as a head coach and the first since Nick Nurse in 2019.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, he also became the first rookie coach to win multiple games in his first postseason 7. Udoka led Boston to seven-game victories over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Finals before the Celtics lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals .
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.